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Gaining backlinks as a business or blog can be quite difficult as many people will refuse to link to your website. Although you might get many emails promising backlinks and instant results, the best results often come with hard work and effort. HARO is one of my favorite ways of earning high-quality backlinks to your website. I’ll be discussing what HARO is, tips for getting HARO mentions, and how to get a good backlink from those utilizing HARO with a sample response.

  • What is HARO
  • How to get backlinks from hARO
  • What to look for in an inquiry from HARO
  • Tips on how to respond to a HARO inquiry

What is HARO?

HARO is a free service called “Help A Reporter Out.” The idea behind this newsletter is that journalists and website owners looking for sources to quote will put out something similar to a classified ad. Reporters, who often work on behalf of top publications, are looking for a specific tip or quote about a certain topic. Sign-up at https://www.helpareporter.com/

HARO newsletter showing inquiries

Anyone who has signed up for a free “HARO” source account can respond to the email listed for each inquiry. These tips often have a short turnaround (a few hours to a few days) as HARO is often used as a last minute attempt at filling sources. By default, you will get three emails a day, one at 5:35am, one at 12:35pm, and 5:35pm EST. You can opt for fewer emails (once daily), but I find that being fast after a HARO newsletter is sent out can help.

Once you see the newsletter, you can click any relevant query to see more information about what they seek, the deadline, and requirements (if any). The topics vary wildly and not all newspapers/websites will identify themselves at first on HARO (via media outlet).

HARO inquiry about avocados

How to get backlinks from HARO

HARO itself does not provide backlinks to you, but many top publications ask for sources using HARO. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get a backlink as many editors cut out links to websites although you may be quoted. I generally recommend quickly browsing HARO when you see the emails come in as some queries receive many answers.

All you need to do is click the email [usually query_____@helpareporter.net] to answer their question as best as possible briefly. I’ll give you a sample response in the next section to a real HARO query that I’ve answered.

Do not email a media kit or include images on your response. (Ensure that any of your image-based signatures are disabled.) Images and attachments are generally stripped from HARO responses. Stick strictly to what is asked. If the journalist needs more information, they will ask.

You might not get any notification that you were quoted or that you received a backlink. I recommend setting up a Google Alert or using Moz (or another service) to check your backlinks regularly. If you don’t see a backlink, do not email the reporter about it as they’re unlikely to change the link simply because you asked.

Be helpful and brief. I find that being professional and non-annoying has resulted in a couple of journalists emailing me for relevant quotes (with backlinks!) for certain fields after I simply gave a good response promptly. If you’re asked for clarification or a photo by the journalist after your initial response, send your email promptly back as prompt responses often get priority over fantastic, but slow answers.

What to look for in an inquiry in HARO

What do you know a lot about? If you’re really into dogs, hiking, travel, or cars, it’s worth checking HARO regularly for relevant mentions! Simply, look for topics that you know a lot about. You might be surprised by what you see.

Let’s say that you have a travel website. Don’t feel that you must answer only to travel queries if you run a travel website. You can also respond to car queries as it’s still a valid backlink. (Niche-related backlinks are better, but a backlink from a high authority source is generally a good thing)

I’ve seen all kinds of strange queries, including one today for an expert in the “avocado space”. Maybe that’s you and you’ll find a great opportunity to get featured in a documentary. I like to start off my day by browsing through the HARO inquiries in the most recent newsletter (or waiting until the new midday HARO). I’ve been surprised by how many topics were relevant to me and I’ve gotten some great mentions by taking a few minutes to respond!

Tips on how to respond to a HARO inquiry

Keep it simple. Introduce yourself with your name, your title, and your website. This is generally how you will be referred to in the quote, if you are to be quoted with additional information.

Answer the query succinctly with a nice 1-2 sentence quote. Some queries will ask for more text, but I find that it’s best to respond with the shortest amount needed to answer the question. Often, the reporter will respond with a follow-up if they’re interested and/or need more information, so don’t send more than one email!

Ensure that your email signature with an image [or two] is turned off. Images cannot be included with HARO responses!

Check the requirements. If you do not meet all the requirements, do not respond. There are plenty of queries to pick from and even responding to one per day should be enough to pick up some mentions.

Don’t put it off and if you wait too long, that perfect query will expire. You cannot respond to reporters after the HARO link expires. It takes just a minute or two to respond, so do it promptly while you’re thinking about it!

Sample HARO inquiry and answer

I wrote a little more here, however I usually briefly introduce myself prior to providing a nice quote or tip. I name the email, “HARO ____TITLE INQUIRY____”

Snippet showing a HARO inquiry

My name is Karen X. I own Success Lynx. Avoid calling your main account “admin” and make your username harder to guess. If you publish blogs, your WordPress author page with the username will be visible with a little snooping, which can be a security liability.  

I usually recommend having two accounts for administrators, one that is public facing with only access to publish e.g. “janedoe” and a secret username that only you know that is used for logging in as an administrator (e.g. “jane20192020”).  You can switch your blogs to be published under janedoe after publication and this can be a great way to make it harder for attackers to guess your username while doing brute force attacks.  Using a plug-in like Wordfence, you can blacklist any IP that attempts to log-in with the username “admin.”

Have you used HARO for gaining high-quality backlinks?

How to get non-sketchy links to your website using HARO!